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GUEST COMMENT How grocers can personalise in-store shopping to ensure customer-first commerce

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Online shoppers no longer consider personalisation a nice to have – it is now the standard.

While online shopping continues to explode – especially in the wake of the pandemic – nearly 40 percent of consumers still make purchases inside a physical store at least once a week. And while the ease of online shopping is largely credited with raising consumers’ expectations for a personalised experience, customers’ demands for personalised attention also has the ironic effect of leading many back to a brick and mortar store. But regardless of whether their shopping experience is online or in-store, today’s consumers want a unique, tailored experience that streamlines the shopping process precisely according to their needs.

That is why, if brick-and-mortar retailers hope to survive as we slowly move beyond the pandemic, they must reimagine the in-store experience for a digital era.

Why in-store personalisation is important

Online personalisation has changed customer expectations, period. That’s why painful in-store touchpoints such as finding hard to locate items, standing in line, packing bags, and carrying everything home can be so frustrating. Simply put, customers don’t want to “work” when they shop.

It’s not enough just to know the names of loyal customers – today, sellers must understand their purchasing habits as well. Just look at the data around discounts and coupons – shoppers are 70-80% more likely to use a personalised discount that they know exists only for them.

The ultimate goal of personalisation in retail is to improve the experience of each shopper by making them feel special, cared-for, and connected. By offering that personalised touch, customers can be made to feel that stores genuinely prioritise them, while retailers can expand average shop basket size, promote customer loyalty, and improve their bottom lines.

A few key personalisation tools:


Tablets enable retailers to access real-time inventory information, get specific recommendations on everything from which products need frequent restocking to the most effective promotions and price points, and more.

Tablets also allow customers to complete transactions from anywhere within a store and can enhance the checkout experience with personalised suggestions for last-minute deals and offers. They also help bridge the gap between the brick and mortar and virtual experiences.

Automatic price comparisons

For online shopping, there are multiple browser plugins that will alert users to cheaper prices on other websites for their favourite products. Customers hate having to check five sources to know if they’re getting a good price – especially if three of them are varying prices from the same grocer (i.e., when their weekly ad, online storefront, and on-shelf pricing all differ). This demonstrates the importance of consistent data across both in-store and online shopping experiences, a key factor in creating an improved, personalised retail offering.

Customised discounts and targeted CPG advertising

For brick-and-mortar stores, digital signage serves as an easy and valuable way to promote specific products and display engaging messages. And because these displays can be changed at the click of a button, they can be seamlessly adjusted to factors like time of day, location, or seasonal events.

For example, customers who shop on a weekday may vary greatly from those doing their shopping on weekends, and digital signage can tailor in-store ads and displays to suit these distinct customer pools. Likewise, on a hot summer day, grocers can display a promotion for certain ice creams, or if there are goods that are close to expiration, retailers can incentivize purchases with real-time promotional offers.

Recipes and health scores

By collecting relevant customer data, some digital applications can automatically create a shopping list from a recipe that interests a shopper. Inversely, data can offer suggestions for recipes or new ingredients based on the recurring items and food types that customers purchase. In short, leveraging data is a practical and effective way for retailers to accommodate individual customers, ensure their loyalty, and reward them for it.

With today’s growing emphasis on wellness and healthy habits, this kind of personalised recommendation has even greater potential: A quick survey of customers’ basic lifestyle or dietary preferences will allow retailers to tailor promotions in a way that will make customers feel good about themselves and their purchases.


Personalisation has transformed online shopping. Now, personalised shopping is beginning to make concrete forays into the brick-and-mortar realm as well. Retailers who embrace digitally-fuelled personalisation will be able to deliver more immersive and delightful in-store shopping experiences and meet customer needs more effectively than ever before.

However, it is important for retailers to keep in mind that personalised shopping models are not one-size-fits-all for every store – every individual retailer must approach personalisation with a strategy informed by their own business needs and budgets. Yes, any shopper will appreciate interactive displays and a quick checkout process, but what they really want is an individualised shopping experience characterised by convenience and engagement from the moment they set foot in the store, all the way to checkout.


Charlie Ward Wright IV, President,

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